Creativity and dancing in Milwaukee via Northumberland


Romi and EB at Writers’ Week 2014

As mentioned in the last post, I was at Writers’ Week last week. I couldn’t help remembering WW last year, which I attended with my pal Romi. We have been friends for nearly 30 years, since we both started work in Aberfoyle Park in the same week in 1986, and this friendship has continued despite the long distances that came with her return to the UK in the early 1990’s.

After she left Oz, Romi went on to have another big adventure later in the year. She was the recipient of a Churchill Fellowship that enabled her to go to US and Canada to find out about different ways to work creatively with people with dementia (Romi is a writer). As part of the process, the Churchill people ask their Fellows to keep a blog about their project. Romi’s blog is really interesting. Since she returned home to Northumberland she has continued to post stories about some of the people she met, and programs she was part of.

I love the way that so many people care about the quality of life of those with different forms of dementia, and can see their capacities and their sense of life and possibility, not just the ‘deficits’ they experience. It is fantastic to hear about the creative lives that some of the participants and their carers lead. It also makes me think about how many people don’t get to be part of community life if we don’t think particularly about making their participation real and possible, if we don’t find ways to build relationships with them that go beyond the ‘obvious’.

The link below takes you to one of the stories from the blog that I really like. It’s about a guy called Robert from Milwaukee in the US and the difference a story-telling (and dancing) session made to him on the day Romi met him.

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9 Responses to Creativity and dancing in Milwaukee via Northumberland

  1. romi789 says:

    I’ve been thinking about Adelaide a lot this week- although Writers Week didn’t hit the press here, the cricket in Adelaide did! So I was reminded of the lovely times I’ve had there-both as a resident for six years as well as the various visits since. I still have a sense of it being one of my ‘home’ places. For me, it has always been a city of quirky inspiration – just the right size, lovely people, amazing festival and events, as well as the sea and the hills on either side. Looking forward to another trip some time- which will no doubt coincide with Writers Week again.

  2. Mandy says:

    How beautiful EB…..touchings story. It reminds me of my gorgeous 93 year old friend “Beryl” I met her and her husband Esmond about 5 years ago and Esmond, though lovely was very dominant. He told everyone that Beryl had dementia, we never knew any different as Beryl or hardly any one could get a word in when conversing with Esmond. Well he passed away 4 years ago and unfortunately Beryl had a fall (on the day of his funeral) and ended up living at Alambi. (Nursing home at Warradale). I have been visiting Beryl every week for 4 years, she was such a delight to get to know, positive, non-judgmental, supportive, happy, well traveled and knew how to make the best of her situation. She had no signs of dementia at all and it was enthralling to listen to her stories and realize she had a “voice”. Beryl had another fall 3 weeks ago and lost consciousness for 2 days, I went to see her on Thursday and she woke, smiled held my hand very tightly and took her last breath. It was very peaceful, she was surrounded by love and was not in pain,,,a very fitting passing for a beautiful soul. I will miss Beryl and her sparkling smile……rest in peace.
    x x x

    • Hi Mandy,
      What a fantastic story Mandy. How wonderful you were able to be with Beryl as she died – a very special time in someone’s life, and how great for her to have someone who loved her with her. How wonderful also that you had the chance (actually you made the chance) to get to know her over all these years – and to find out about her life and her unique qualities. What a treasure you are!

  3. pam says:

    hi having a bit off a heard time with my family over here and as us ell I go to the blog to get same strength from people I no but the most preaches thing for me today was Elizabeth’s wonderful face smiling as always people came and go from our lives but all leveeing same, think wither it is good or bad its like finger prints on our hearts we need to learn to get ride of the bad once I guess well there is one from u Elizabeth on mine it is stuck with super glue and even when I don’t want it there as I want to do the wooo is me pam thing its still there I leave to go to the USA Texas in 3 week 6 days now not counting how would of thought that shy women who left here home in WA because she was killing her self ever second day go to Adelaide met a women who has such an imputed on her life that now she is going on a holiday witch I have saved for I could not even save a dollar my goodness I cant believe it my self there is a lot of fear there but what have I got to lose concer this one and the world is mine there is more to me than making babies I was just a bit slow in realizing it love u all pam the mighty lol by the way found spell cheek
    how cool

    • Hi Pam,
      How lovely to hear from you! I think I will have to do a blog post on ‘fingerprints on our hearts’. Stay tuned for that one. I love the idea, and you certainly have left fingerprints on mine! I think of you very often. I am in Auburn at the moment, and having a look at the computer to connect with people a bit, so this comment is perfect. I will contact you before you go away – it is very very cool that you are doing the big holiday thing – but I certainly understand the fear element too. Hang in there babe!
      Love and cheers

    • Mandy says:

      Congratulations Pam, well done, you are an inspiration and a GEM….I hope you have the time of your life on your holiday, you deserve it. I am so happy to read your great story. XXX

  4. pam says:

    thanks mandy maybe Italy next stay tuned lol

  5. Pingback: Gazing up through trees (at Writers’ Week) | Stories of buttons and bread

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